Pax South was my first real gaming convention, and I have to say I had an absolute blast there. Don’t get me wrong I had been to a few conventions in the past, even worked a few comic book conventions when I worked at a comic book shop, but they were nothing like Pax. This got me thinking about what I might be missing out on here locally. It turns out we have a not insignificant number of conventions that happen within a short driving distance. In fact at the tail end of this month a pretty big retro gaming convention is happening in the Oklahoma City area. As you can see from the handy little button thing on the right it is happening March 28th and 29th at the Oklahoma Expo Hall of the Oklahoma State Fair Park in Oklahoma City… Oklahoma. Yeah that was a lot of Oklahoma in a row, even as a lifer I thought it was a bit excessive.
One of the topics that I have been mulling over in my head is why exactly we have manages to stay happy and engaged with Final Fantasy XIV for the better part of this last year. So often we pop into a MMO and last a few months only to flit off to another title a month later. At the same time I have been examining why I stayed in World of Warcraft for over seven years, and continue to return to it. I think the answer to Final Fantasy XIV is two fold. Firstly we returned to the game after a sequence of boom bust cycles in MMOs like Elder Scrolls Online and Wildstar. I was personally looking for a place to “settle down” for awhile, and Final Fantasy XIV had been the only title that all of my friends seemed to leave “on good terms” with. So we set down roots, and I started getting involved in the Cactuar community as did the rest of my guild. This process was aided by the fact that we had nothing on the horizon to draw our attention away from the game. As such we have been able to play the game without the distraction of shiny new objects and their promises of a better gaming experience.
I think this lull in MMO releases has helped a lot of games that were stable get more so. When I came back to Final Fantasy XIV last July they were at I believe 2.5 million subscribers, and last week they announced that they had blossomed up to 4 million subscribers. That is a fairly significant growth over what is essentially two quarters, and I think that in part it has a lot to do with the fact that there is really nothing out there to pull attention away from it. Don’t get me wrong Warlords of Draenor happened, and I have been playing it… but that is only a draw to players who still have warmth in their hearts for the World of Warcraft franchise. I think the answer to why we have stayed is that we were given enough time to set down roots. We not only have friends in our free company, but are members of several active linkshells that give us access to raiding and grouping beyond our own numbers. This sort of environment is contagious and has made recruiting more members to the fold exceptionally easy. All of which builds upon itself giving me the piece the kept me coming back to World of Warcraft all of this time… a stable and thriving community. The awesome thing is… I can have my cake and eat it two, because at this point my community in World of Warcraft is vastly different than my community blooming here in Final Fantasy XIV.
I had every intention to come home and have a quiet night of powering through the early levels of botany. In fact that is precisely how my evening started, with me brute forcing the level 10 trees near Bentbranch in the Central Shroud. Right now I am working towards the level 10 quest, which will require 99 Crow Feathers. My goal is to be able to have 99 waiting and ready for when I ding 10 and can immediately turn in that quest and move on to the next sequence. However last night it was only a matter of moments before someone in guild needed something… and the adventurer inside me leapt at the chance to do something “not crafting”. My friend Arkenor needed a run of Haukke Manor, and another group needed a run of Copperbell and thankfully we had the right mix of people to make both happen. I tanked Haukke on my Paladin and another run when smoothly. I have said this before, but I keep having to say it over and over. I love how damned easy and rewarding it is to run lower level content with your friends.
Once the crafting thing was tossed aside I spent most of the rest of the night running content. We moved from Haukke into a random Expert Roulette picking up Cav to add to Ash, myself and Thalen. Once finished there I ran a few trials roulette and a hard roulette… and before I realized it was 9:30 and I was starting to get a bit tired. This is the way an evening can evaporate in Eorzea, with a bunch of chain events that make you wonder where the time went. So sadly I did not make much progress on Botanist, but I am feeling that Sunday I will have another “catch up on television” day downstairs on my laptop and push forward again. At some point I need to run a good deal more content however because I would really like to cap my poetics this week, and I have barely put a dent in them. If I keep running a few roulettes each day, I should be able to do it without much difficulty. The only monkey wrench in this plan is the fact that most of Saturday I will be out of town, leaving me only Sunday to really work on such things. In any case… I had a fun evening with my Free Company and have zero regrets of not making any flower picking progress.